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Best cure for a problem is prevention; don't plant problems
Ashley Ho0pers ext agent
Ashley Hoopers is UGA Extension agent for Liberty County - photo by File photo

Does the advice, “Don’t start something that you don’t intend to finish” sound familiar to you? If no one has said that to you before, take it from me, it’s pretty good advice. Some things may seem like good ideas when we begin them, but quickly turn sour as time goes by, leaving us kicking ourselves for creating a mess for ourselves.  For instance, sowing wild oats is a whole lot easier than harvesting them.  Indeed, a little planning and some foresight would help us all stay out of a lot of trouble, especially in the gardening world.

Now that temperatures are more moderate, gardeners are coming out to play.  We have been hiding from the heat and sun and, are now creeping out to resume our activities.  Unfortunately, we sometimes let our enthusiasm out run our good judgment.  We create garden problems that cannot be solved because we do not follow good garden practices.

I have told you before which garden practices to avoid at this time of year.  Do not prune or fertilize woody plants or fertilize lawns in the fall.  Do not dethatch or aerate lawns now and do not water unless the ground is very dry.

“Well, what can I do?”  Fall is the best time to plant.  Plants put in now can grow roots during the winter, get established and are better able to resist next year’s dry weather.  You can plant shrubs, trees, perennials, many bulbs and even seed many wild flowers now.  A few vegetables can even go in too.

Another tip I have for you is to select hardy plants.  Some plants have built in problems or special needs.  I do not say ‘don’t plant them’, but make sure that you cater to their needs when you do put them in. Many gardeners plant the wrong plant in the wrong place in the wrong way, and want me to tell them how to fix it once the plant shows signs on decline.  The best cure for a problem is prevention.  Don’t plant problems!

For example, dogwoods like shade and well drained but moist sites.  Mulch well around them.  Redbuds do not like wet areas, while tulip poplars, red maples, willows and river birches like moist soil.  Daphnes and many junipers must have well drained soil.  Junipers prefer full sun. 

How will you know these things about your plants?  Get a copy of our ‘Shrub, Tree and Ground Cover Adaptability’ guide and check out your favorite plant.

Did you know that all crape myrtles are not created equal?  Some have resistance to powdery mildew while others do not.  Some India hawthornes get Fabrea leaf spot while others do not.  Get a list of pest resistant plants from our office before you buy. 

 The Japanese hollies (Helleri and Compacta) need moist, well drained sites.  Use them in areas where the soil is well drained and they will be watered with one inch of water once a week in drought.  If the soil is too wet, consider using a dwarf yaupon holly instead.

How do we avoid planting problems?  Do some research first.  Get to know your plant and give it what it wants.  Till up a wide area when planting.  Do not plant any deeper than the plant originally grew.  Plan to water with one inch of water once a week during next summer. Do not till around plants after they start growing.  You may destroy roots.

Any questions?  Contact the Liberty County Extension office at 912-876-2133 or email us at See the UGA website at or come by the office at 100 Main St, Suite 1200, Hinesville. We are located on the first floor in the Historic Courthouse downtown. 

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